Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Still in the muck

But really so much better.  I still have days when my feelings come up and I wonder how long it will go on, but those days are fewer and farther between, as they say.  Today I had a Reiki session and the practitioner asked me what was going on in my life (this was at Friends In Deed) and as I told her, I had a good cry and she said, "Wow, that's a lot to handle all at once."  And she said some other stuff that I can't remember, but at the time felt good.  I don't know why, but I am really happy that I have these feelings of sadness and that I can actually feel alive after so many years of feeling numb and never crying.  I used to be amazed when someone said, "Oh, I cried all night."  Or "I couldn't stop crying."  I just didn't get it.  Now I get it.  Now I have much more compassion and empathy.  

I just got a text message that my daughter, who works at "It's A Grind" in Nob Hill, San Francisco.  She invented a vanilla-hazelnut latte and everyone likes it. I'm so proud! 

Friday, January 22, 2010

Appreciating our past

This entry from "The Language of Letting Go" by Melody Beattie was helpful to me this morning:

"Appreciating Our Past

It is easy to be negative about past mistakes and unhappiness. But it is much more healing to look at ourselves and our past in the light of experience, acceptance and growth.  Our past is a series of lessons that advance us to higher levels of living and loving. 

The relationships we entered, stayed in, or ended taught us necessary lessons.  Some of us have emerged from the most painful circumstances with strong instincts about who we are and what we want.

Our mistakes?  Necessary.  Our frustrations, failures, and sometimes stumbling attempts at growth and progress?  Necessary too.  

Each step of the way, we learned. We went through exactly the experience we needed to, to become who we are today.  Each step of the way, we progressed.  

Is our past a mistake?  No.  The only mistake we can make is mistaking that for the truth.

Today, God, help me let go of negative thoughts I may be harboring about my past circumstances or relationships.  I can accept, with gratitude, all that has brought me to today."

Tuesday, January 19, 2010


Yesterday, I spent almost an entire day without any Blackberry, email, phone calls or internet.  (Okay, I watched a few minutes of TV, but I had to see the Golden Globe clothing recap.)

It felt so good to just be.  It reminds me of going on a silent retreat, which I thought might be difficult, but it turns out that I love it.  Our lives are so intense now, it's hard to really relax and slow down.  But I did yesterday and I hope to continue to do so periodically, maybe every other week or so.  It didn't matter what I did - actually I did some reading and then I wrote something I really like, the start of a new solo piece or a play - and I walked.  This winter has been really great so far, even the five week cold I had and the frigid days. We're already two thirds through the winter and I'm grateful for the forty degree weather we've been having.  And I love walking the dogs and running into old friends every day.

I'm still watching and listening to the coverage of Haiti.  I heard a great story this morning on Brian Lehrer's show on NPR about a film school in a small city close to the epicenter of the earthquake.  The school was destroyed, fortunately all the students survived and they have been taking their equipment out into the field and sending footage of the countryside that CNN and all the networks are using on their broadcasts.  They talked about this city (I wish I could remember the name) and what a beautiful, culturally active place it was (and hopefully will be again someday.)  Most of the stories from Haiti are horrific - there's no denying that.  But I loved the story about the baby that was born on a U.S. carrier over the weekend.  The U.S. Vincent is the carrier and the baby's name is Vincent.  What a story his mom will tell about his birth.  And another story about a woman whose husband wouldn't give up looking for her in the rubble of the bank she worked in.  They found her alive after six days of no food and no water.  She drove home in a car like she'd just finished a long day at the office.  Human resilience is utterly amazing.  

I'm about to attempt to Skype with my daughter.  I have a feeling it probably won't go so well the first time, but I'm determined to try.  I miss her and hope I get to see her sweet face. 

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Haiti and life

I've been trying not to spend too much time watching the news because it's so heartbreaking.  But when you hear the story of Haiti, the poverty, the corruption, the hunger, the children who have been basically sold into slavery, and you realize that now the world is focusing on taking care of a population of people who have been completely abandoned, it seems as though perhaps, in the long run, this terrible tragedy will ultimately bring positive change to Haiti.  It has to.  It really can't be much worse than it is right now and has been for so many years.

It reminds me of what I've learned about life - the good times are wonderful, but it's the catastrophes that make us grow and show us how strong we are.  This earthquake is Haiti is a catastrophe of Biblical proportions, but the world is sending so much love and aide and focusing so intently on saving lives - I hope it will eventually bring the changes that are so desperately needed.

If nothing I'm writing makes any sense, it's because last night our upstairs neighbors had a very loud dance party and I'm not quite awake yet.  And then early this morning, Lucy, my old dog, had to go out for a very early morning walk.  I have one dog that's very old and is frequently incontinent, so I have to give her eye drops for her diabetes incipitus, which is what causes her to urinate frequently, and another dog who is nearly blind and has such bad arthritis in her hind legs that it looks like she's prancing when she walks down the street.  But despite these problems, they're my family and I love them. 

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Pray for Haiti

I was going to write about a really interesting Tarot card reading I had, but that will have to wait for another day.  There's too much terrible news coming from Haiti about the 7.0 earthquake and all the destruction and death it's caused.  I was looking at photos on the Times website.  It's a nightmare, so many people trapped in collapsed buildings and it's going to take a long time to recover from an earthquake of that magnitude in such a poor country. 

Last night I was at Friends In Deed and I was reminded about staying in the "now."  For hundreds of thousands of Haitians the now is pretty bleak and we should all try to donate what we can to organizations like Doctors Without Borders, even if it's just a few dollars, and keep the Haitians in our prayers.

One side note.  My loft mate and the members of the church she attends, Judson Memorial Baptist Church, have been working desperately to keep a beloved member of their community, Jean Montrivel, a Haitian community activist, from being deported back to Haiti.  Many years ago he committed a drug related crime in this country, but he went to prison for eleven years and has, since his release, become a very solid and decent member of society.  He is a husband and father of four young children, runs his own business, employing fourteen workers, has always cooperated with immigration board and has a green card.  The Judson community has been staging protests, signing petitions and calling everyone in Congress who can possibly help.  I wonder if this earthquake might be the thing that saves Jean and keeps him in this country?  He was supposed to have gone back two weeks ago and he is still here.   

Sunday, January 10, 2010

"Perfection is like death"

I was feeling the need to include Pema Chodron's writings again on the blog.  

This comes from "When Things Fall Apart" - one of my favorite books:
"We think that if we just meditated enough or jogged or ate perfect food, everything would be perfect.  But from the point of view of someone who's awake, that's death. Seeking security or perfection, rejoicing in feeling confirmed and whole, self-contained and comfortable, is some kind of death.  It doesn't have any fresh air.  There's nothing to come in and interrupt all that.  We are killing the moment by controlling our experience.  Doing this is setting ourselves up for failure, because sooner or later, we're going to have an experience we can't control: our house is going to burn down, someone we love is going to die, we're going to find out we have cancer, or somebody's going to spill tomato juice all over our white suit.

The essence of life is that it's challenging.  Sometimes it is sweet and sometimes it is bitter. Sometimes your body tenses, and sometimes it relaxes and opens.  Sometimes you have a headache, and sometimes you feel 100% healthy.  From an awakened perspective, trying to tie up all the loose ends and trying to get it all together is death, because it involves rejecting a lot of your basic experience.  There is something aggressive about that approach to life, trying to flatten out all the rough spots and all the imperfections into a nice smooth ride.  To be fully alive, fully human, and completely awake is to be continually thrown out of the nest.  To live fully is to be always in no-man's land, to experience each moment as completely fresh and new."

This is definitely how I am living now, in a no-man's land...not because I'm a Buddhist who's chosen to be fully awake and alive, but because of the situations in my life.  So when I read that again, it reminded me that not only is it okay to be living in a state of flux, or not quite knowing where life is taking me, it's actually a good thing.  

Truthfully, it doesn't always feel so good, but I'm working on that. 

Friday, January 8, 2010


I'm not talking about myself, I was thinking about the world in general this morning in my meditation.  I heard on the news that the job market remains very bad and nothing that the government's been doing to fix the economy seems to be helping.  And - the private sector is shrinking - which it doesn't look good for this administration if it can't lift us out of this mess. 

I was also thinking about the PBS show "This Emotional Life" which I watched this week.  I haven't seen the whole three part series yet, but the last segment was my favorite.  What I really loved, that I'd never heard, was about a study of POW's who'd suffered horrific torture and imprisonment for many years.  When asked if it was possible to remove that period of their lives, would they choose to?  The answer was for most of them, no.  And the reason was that it was the time in their lives when they learned the most about themselves, when they saw how strong they were and how resilient.  The torture was almost unspeakable, and the years in solitary confinement were devastating, but one former prisoner talked about a tapping system on the walls of their cells that the prisoners devised to communicate with each other and how that saved their lives. They prayed, taught each other different languages, talked about their families. 

The show also showed the power of 12 Step Programs and how that sense of community is one of most effective tools for dealing with addictive behaviors and transformation.  The spiritual aspect is also important, but the connection between human beings is really crucial.

I wrote about Daniel Gilbert and his studies about happiness a few months ago, based on an article I read in the NY Times.  This show on PBS, particularly the final installment, is really worth watching.  And maybe this period in our country's history, and most of the rest of the world's, is a period that we will look back as one we were able to grow from and prove how resilient we are. 

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Fish Tank

Okay, so yesterday I did a little whining about my life and today I am extremely grateful for all the things I get to do, living in this amazing city.  Last week a friend of mine left me a voice message and I couldn't really understand the whole message, but I got: "film, Wednesday night, IFC."  So I called back and said yes and I still didn't know what we were seeing, so I asked her last night when I went to meet her and she said, "Fish Tank."   I've never heard of "Fish Tank", but she said it was supposed to be great and I figured okay, it's free, I get to spend time with my friend and I love movies.

They gave us a handout when we first arrived at the theater.  I read the first paragraph "Director Andrea Arnold's film always begin with an image, which she doesn't really understand, but uses it to figure out what the film is about....she doesn't give the actors a script.  The seventeen year-old lead was discovered while fighting with her boyfriend on a train platform near the town where the film was eventually shot and when the casting agent approached her and asked if she would like to be in a film, the girl said, 'Fuck off.'"  (She thought it was a joke.)  

I knew right away that I was probably going to like this movie. Katie Jarvis played the lead and she is quite talented and intuitive.

Anyway,, the film was fascinating.  Lots of shades of gray of human behavior, truth and raw performances.  The lead actor, Michael Fassbender is brilliant in a difficult role.   Everyone walked a very thin line and managed to keep their balance.  Everyone was multi-dimensional, which is so rare these days.  I can't wait to see it again.  Michael Fassbender was there last night to talk about the film and he is charming and incredibly handsome. It was a wonderful night. I love living in NY, I didn't even mind walking home in the cold, and I so appreciate my friends. And really great art. 

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

I'm so tired of being alone

I think it's just winter.  Winter is a bitch.  Winter is a challenge.  I feel like I have a phantom limb, like something isn't quite right, and yet...

I realized last night as I was throwing out the garbage that there were so many things I didn't want to do when I was married and it had nothing to do with being lazy or just not liking doing them.  It was my passive aggressive way of getting back at my husband.  Now I actually enjoy all the chores that I avoided all those years.  It feels good not to walk around with all that underlying anger.  I feel lighter in some ways and sadder in others.  I even feel like cooking, which I haven't wanted to do in years.  I was at the gym this morning, watching Martha Stewart (I have no say over what channels are on the tv's) and she was cooking stir fried chicken and stir fried shrimp and I thought, "Okay, I want to cook that." 

Last night I also went with E to Friends In Deed.  She just lost her best friend to cancer and has had several years of the worst crises to deal with.  She said to me, "Can I just say my litany? Just list it all?"  And I said, "This is the place to do it."  

We listened to people's stories and I think she realized just how many people have had too much shit to deal with.  I had to leave a few minutes early, so I don't know if she did eventually share, but I hope she comes back.  FID was closed over the holidays, so it felt good to be in the room again.  As soon as we started to meditate, I could feel the tears welling up and then I felt fine again.  I think it's working.  

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Dating rock stars

I just finished reading Bono's op-ed piece in the NY Times.  I didn't understand a third of it, but all I could think about is - wow, you are sexy, talented and smart.  And committed to improving the world, and rich, and you seem to walk the walk, and why aren't you on Match?  Or having dinner in Savoy across the street, so I could meet you there?  

Electric cars, cancer, the World Cup, teleportation, pollution, those are just half of the ten suggestions Bono wrote about today in his op-ed piece.  And here I am writing about dating him.  Well, have you ever seen him in concert?  He's very sexy in that powerful, lead singer/song writer activist with a private plane kind of way.  

I'm not crazy about the sunglasses, but I'm sure he doesn't wear them to bed.  

I would also like to do yoga with Sting. 

Monday, January 4, 2010

Right brain and follow through

I have this problem:  too many ideas and not enough follow through.  I think it's a challenging dilemma, probably much better than others I could have, but still a problem.

Now that my mom has passed away and my family is scattered and all I have to really worry about on a daily basis is myself, my fourteen and a half year-old incontinent dog with diabetes incipitus (sp?), my seven and a half year-old blind, arthritic dog with disk problems, my financial situation, my teeth, my friends, where I'll live, when I'll meet someone to love, etc., etc., perhaps I can finally really channel all the ideas I have into actions and actually accomplish something important.

Some of what I've already done is pretty much out of my hands...but new projects are beginning to come to my mind and I want to really focus attention on them and make them real.

2010 may be the year of accomplishment, or at least the start of the decade of accomplishment.  I hope so! 

Sunday, January 3, 2010

"What is it with you and fun?"

My ex once actually said those words to me.  I'm telling you this not to point the finger or cast blame.  I'm just saying, I like fun.  I need fun.  I crave fun. 

And this year, I am going to have it.  It's been a long time, since I have felt so in control of my life - and also out of control.  I can choose the people I want to spend time with and what I do with some of my time.  I can't control much else, but one thing I am going to focus on is bringing joy and fun into my life.

Last night Abigail, my loftmate, and I had a group of women over for dinner and a movie.  We bought ourselves a flat screen TV for Christmas (not big) and then a cable guy came and attached a new hi def cable box, but somehow our DVD player was not attached.  I spent a good forty-five minutes on the phone with Time Warner, much to the amusement of our guests, but I failed in my mission to figure out what the problem was.

We had a really enjoyable evening anyway, talking and laughing and I am always amazed at how much I love being with people and how isolated my prior life had been.  

So this year, I choose fun.  I choose spending more time with people I really like and who like me, and are also looking to bring more pleasure and fun into their lives. I have realized lately that I'm not an extrovert or an introvert - I'm a centrovert.  I am nourished by being with people and I couldn't possibly exist without time alone.  This year I'm on a hunt for a more authentic life.  I'm still meditating, imperfectly, but daily. 

I need to throw in a plug for gratitude. Last year was difficult, but I wouldn't trade a moment of it.  It truly was "a creative and transformative experience."  And I guess this year will probably continue to be as well.  

"A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step."   Lao-tse

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Row row row your boat

I was just resting, getting ready for a small party tonight at our loft, trying to get rid of a mild headache.  It suddenly felt like I was floating on a lovely stream and the words "row row row your boat" came to my mind.  I could feel the warmth of a summer day, even though it's twenty-nine degrees outside and snowing lightly.  This time of year is always a challenge for me and maybe that's one of the reasons I like living in NY.  There's three months of weather that I don't particularly enjoy, that require a very serious practice of staying in the moment and not succumbing to complete winter despair.  Well, actually, I usually do succumb to it, but then I bounce back eventually and by May I am positively giddy with pride that I didn't beat anyone up or have a nervous breakdown.  

Actually, if I did beat someone up or have a nervous breakdown, it would make this blog far more interesting, so perhaps I'll try that this winter.  I mean, rowing your boat down the stream is pretty dull, when you think about it.  I need a baseball bat and some boxing gloves, and maybe I'll just start cursing at strangers on the street.  

I'll keep you posted.